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Spirit of our early settlers


As with many rural regions of Atlantic Canada, our population in the District of St. Mary’s is shrinking and our average age is becoming older.


To make matters worse, many of those leaving are our talented and educated young people, those who would otherwise become our new business and community leaders, steering us into our future.


Our small businesses, vital for employment, are also becoming fewer in number, many no longer viable given rising costs, shrinking customer base and declining revenue.


Inevitably, government agencies that provide crucial services like health care, transportation, and education study these trends to plan our future, and the studies can only lead to budget cuts. GASHA’s recent healthcare study is one example. Communities with declining populations must expect to see fewer or degraded services in future.


So… our population size and demographic trends lead to fewer services in both business and government sectors, making it more difficult for us to attract new residents or keep those we have. It’s a vicious circle. Declining population leads to fewer services and, eventually but inevitably, the end of a community.


Newfoundland and Labrador is still trying to deal with similar declines that began with the cod fishery moratorium in 1992. Without younger generations to replace older ones, many rural coastal communities there will simply cease to exist.


Like our neighboring province, we must reverse population declines to keep our rural communities.


How can we best provide growth once again in the District of St. Mary’s? Our early settlers did it by working together using their spirit, strength, and natural resources. One can only imagine the challenges they conquered and the hardships they endured, even though available resources were plenty. They had the essential spirit.


Today we still have strengths and resources. Our spirit is the passion we have for our way of life in our rural communities and our desire to keep it that way. We still get our feathers ruffled by issues like inadequate lobster prices and vile open-pen salmon farms. Our natural resources still include those found by early settlers. Some natural resources have been depleted by unwise management over the years, but much of this can be reversed. That is, if we can muster the spirit to do that.


Strengths unavailable to early settlers included most business, technological and government services we enjoy today. Surely we can use today’s advantages to ensure the future for our communities, in the spirit of our early settlers.


To them, most anything was possible, and we are, after all, their descendents.


Next week we’ll discuss some opportunities to turn this around.



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